The exterior window is plastered with a door design that changes by season. A large head of an old-time delivery man is posted in the left side of the window, staring at passers by. Walking in the store we are greeted by the shop’s weird, imaginative décor. There’s an Indian figure with lollipops as the feathers of his headdress, a man in a foil astronaut outfit, a giant hand coming down from the ceiling, a grotesque figure with a large head and a baby body. These bizarre denizens are just some of the handmade creations of Atomic Candy owner Tim Loyd that fill his confectionery store. And mixed underneath and all around the art, you have colorful candies old and new, sodas, odd toy trinkets, animal head masks and more wacky finds.
I was delighted one evening to find one of my favorite candies (the colorful Binky Pacifiers). Little did I know, even after shopping at the store a few times before, that Atomic Candy has been selling a sweet childhood memory of mine all along. There it was: its yellow-and-red-themed label with big, bold letters, practically screaming “Triple XXX Root Beer” from behind the clear glass door of the cold beverage refrigerator. Releasing a flood of memories of being at the Dr Pepper museum with my mom, aunt and cousin, I squealed in excitement. The store employees were not alarmed, clearly used to customer reactions like mine. I bought a bottle and immediately called my mom to reminisce about the past.
This memory got me thinking that a lot of Atomic Candy shoppers likely experience the same kind of nostalgia. So I met with manager Teresa Rodriguez and employee Emma Manly to find out what Atomic Candy wants people to feel in their store.
“Our goal is to get people to find things they haven’t found in a long time and to relive those moments they loved when they were little,” Teresa says. “Maybe Necco Wafers hold a special place in your heart because your grandma fed them to you when you were four – that kind of stuff.”
Atomic Candy carries your old-fashioned candies and even sweets that were once found in way-back-when nickel-and-dime stores.
“People still come in and see Jolt (a type of energy drink cola no longer broadly sold) and they get excited because it’s Jolt,” Emma said.
It’s not only the customers that find childhood treats and discover new things at Atomic Candy. The employees, even after working at the store for a long time still get excited when new merchandise rolls in.
“I’ve worked here for five years and I still find things that I haven’t seen since I was little,” Teresa said. “I don’t know if you’ve ever seen them but they’re called ‘Love Bugs’ and when you open the package, it looks like a ring box. It has a little bug in it and its little legs jiggle and it has a sticker that says ‘I love you’ at the top. As a kid, my dad used to give me those when he came home from out-of-town work trips. When I saw we had one in the store, I lost my mind. I was so excited I had to buy one.”
Atomic Candy is where everyone finds something amongst the store’s visual bounty, whether a treat or a memory. It is one happy place to be, where children dream of sugar rushes and the older crowd comes to relive sweet memories they shared with family and friends.
According to the store manager Teresa, it’s a total confectionery experience.
“As cheesy as it may sound, we want to make people’s dreams come true.”